Rebuilding civilization in North America

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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby edearl » Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:44 pm

[quote="Namdrol"
....
Not really. This is not like growing crops. This is selectively picking trees and felling them in a rotation, while trying to maintain a whole population.[/quote]

Using passive solar energy to heat a home is so much less work, feasible almost everywhere, scalable to everybody, and not expensive. Why not use it? In many cases the reason is houses are already built without it, but why not provide it for new homes? Maybe it is tradition or fear of change. IDK.
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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:25 pm

Passive solar has limited effectiveness in New England. However, you are right, new homes can be designed to maximize their solar uptake. But it is exorbinant to retrofit a home. For example, I live in a 1829 farmhouse. I would like us to refit our house with a geothermal system because I think this is the most efficient way to heat in the winter. But we do not have the money at present.

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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby kirtu » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:33 am

Namdrol wrote:Passive solar has limited effectiveness in New England. However, you are right, new homes can be designed to maximize their solar uptake. But it is exorbinant to retrofit a home. For example, I live in a 1829 farmhouse. I would like us to refit our house with a geothermal system because I think this is the most efficient way to heat in the winter. But we do not have the money at present.


Do you have a thermal vent nearby?

The thing about New England is cold: there are passive solar houses in Sweden. Passive solar should be doable in any part of the lower 48 (well, maybe not on the White Mountains). Ah, retrofit - that might be a challenge. I'll bet a clever designer could come up with a solution though. Reinsulate a room at a time and change glass to greenhouse glass as a start?

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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby kirtu » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:37 am

Sönam wrote:others solutions exist to minimize the consumption of wood ... green roofs for exemple

Image


Yeah, but Sonam - this looks like an adaptation of military engineering. If so, that's a byproduct of the original intent of this structure. Not that it's not a green roof ....

Hmmm, is this an example of Maginot Line forts adapted to a home(my first impression) or is this part of the green resort complex in Patagonia?

Kirt
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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby kirtu » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:45 am

Virgo wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Namdrol wrote:134-14 acres


We're really talking about 20-50 acres max and as low as 1 acre (obviously we can't put many people sustainably on 1 acre). The restarting civilization tag means to begin rebuilding civilization. I cannot afford to buy that much land all at once. Banding together we can but no one has said that they are interested in buying land and building on it (not yet at least). So for a while I will probably be on my own.

Your assessment of wood needs is proven. However I would like to minimize wood usage to the minimum necessary.

Kirt

I think Namdrol means 13-14 acres.


I suspected that .... still I have a hard time cutting down trees (and I've done it). I'd have a harder time growing trees and culling them. Trees are homes for animals and spirits for example.

You could also consider burning pellets. You can even make a lot of your own pellets, from wood, and other plant life.


I'll have to check this out. Do you have a reference?

Thanks!

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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby kirtu » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:48 am

Huifeng wrote:For locations:
The northern part of the North Island in New Zealand (north of Auckland), and parts of the Coromandel peninsula just SE of Auckland, may be good sites.
Also, the northern tip of the South Island, around Nelson and Blenheim.


You're going to try to move me into one of those caves with the scary but harmless insect aren't you?

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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby kirtu » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:50 am

Tara wrote:Hi kirt,

I thought you might be interested in this website. http://www.simondale.net/house/ The location of this settlement is UK. The home in the main article looks amazing and enchanting. It says it cost around £3,000 to get it to the stage in the photographs.


Thanks Tara!

I ran across these Hobbit houses a while ago but lost the link. This is quite an interesting approach.

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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby kirtu » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:58 am

Namdrol wrote:
Sönam wrote:
Namdrol wrote:134-14 acres of northern wardwood stand will last such a place an indefinite period of time if cut carefully -- first taking out old tree and sick trees, leaving saplings, middle aged trees so on and so on.

If you are in NE, you can use this as a guide to figure it out:

http://extension.unh.edu/resources/file ... ep1200.pdf

Common idea is that you can can get 1 cord an acre. But I think this is not based on a very scientific understanding as that sheet shows.

Basically, if we are talking maple, for exampe, it takes 20 years for a maple tree to reach an ideal size for firewood. If you have a large enough lot you can rotate through your acerage preserving mother trees and always having abundant fuel and more for your descendents. All it takes is a little thought.


In your rotation you will need some more space to let the regeneration of the earth ...


Not really. This is not like growing crops. This is selectively picking trees and felling them in a rotation, while trying to maintain a whole population.


Namdrol - you've got to remember - born and partly raised in Germany, partly raised in Hawaii. I've had a double dose of tree worshipper culture. I have a visceral reaction to harvesting trees unless it's absolutely necessary. The closest I can get if it's not practically life and death is using hollowed out dead trees (a la the book/movie "The Other Side of the Mountain") and gleaning fallen wood. You should have seen when Ani Kunga told me in the 1700's Colonists clear cut the woods around their towns (and that we probably have denser forests on average on the East Coast than we've had for 200 years).

Nonetheless I'll look into wood as fuel and building material while looking for alternatives.

I could probably cut switch cane, etc. because it's a grass.

Kirt
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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby Virgo » Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:06 am

kirtu wrote:I suspected that .... still I have a hard time cutting down trees (and I've done it). I'd have a harder time growing trees and culling them. Trees are homes for animals and spirits for example.

Hi Kirt,

I can understand that. But what Namdrol is talking about is sustainable logging. As in you only fell select trees, so the plot is good forever, you stay away from clear cutting. If you own that land, then no one else will come and clear cut it for logs, or for building businesses, homes, etc., so you are actually providing a home for the animals and so forth. At all times, there will be a large number of fully grown trees on the property.

I'll have to check this out. Do you have a reference?
Kirt

Absolutely. Pellet fuel is very cheap compared to other methods, even if you buy the wood pellets. Creating your own is even cheaper. Some people don't realize that if you do it well, you can actually make really good pellets from your grass clipings, leaves, pine needles, paper and so forth. All of that can burn very slowly and provide a great amount of heat.

You can find some information here about grass pellets here: http://www.enviroenergyny.com/wood-grass-pellets/wood-and-grass-pellet-fuel-new-york/

A ton of wood pellets, bought for around 200 dollars US can heat a 3,500 square foot home for about a month in the dead of winter. Producing your own is much cheaper, especially when you consider that you can use your mail, newspapers, etc, grass, leaves, and so on.

To make your own pellets well you will need a wood chipper, mulcher, and a machine that makes the pellets. You could probably get all the equipment you need for under 2k US.

Kevin
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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby Kyosan » Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:13 am

kirtu wrote:I grew up partly in Hawaii, on Oahu.

People on Oahu can get cold in the winter because it rains for three months, sometimes day and night. Simple shelter is fine but in the old days people lit fires in the winter for sure. After living there a while temps in the 60's become cold. Cooling isn't needed on Oahu although one section of the island is a de facto desert. I don't know the temperature profiles of the other islands.

I lived in: Honolulu on Oahu, Kuau on Maui and Hilo on the Big Island. All these places are lower elevation and were comfortable throughout the year without any heating. Outside at nightime it can be cool, but inside the house is warmer. When I was there, in the early 1980s, few if any people, at the lower elevations, had heating in their homes. Further up the mountains you do need heating to be comfortable. The Big Island is closer to the equator than Oahu (19.5 vs. 21 degrees) so the temperature tends to be a little more constant.

Hilo Temperatures from http://www.weatherreports.com
Average high temperature for warmest month: 84F (summer days)
Average low temperature for coldest month: 62F (winter nights)


For every 1000ft increase in altitude in Puna there is about a 3 degree decrease in temperature. So in Fern Forest, at about 3000ft I think, I would expect the outside temperatures to be:

Average high temperature for warmest month: 75F (summer days)
Average low temperature for coldest month: 53F (winter nights)


kirtu wrote:Thanks! I'll check this out. I rejected Hawaii in the past because land is really only available on the Big Island and this means potentially dealing with volcanoes and historically tsunami.

However over the past 50 yrs people have homesteaded on every one of the eight main islands except Kahoolawe (a Hawaiian holy island that until recently was used as a bombing range) so this is of course doable there.

Kirt


Hilo has been devastated by tsunamis in the past and, from what I understand, that's largely because of the shape of Hilo Bay. Having no idea how far a wave can travel up the mountain, I ask the people at the forum about this a while back. It turns out tsunamis don't go very high up in altitude so my lot (yes, I have a lot at 1350ft) is completely safe. But if Hilo was devastated it would make supplies harder to get since many of the supplies come through Hilo. Tsunami warnings are issued so it's possible to check for them before going to the coast for any reason.

Puna is on the side of a volcano and there are frequent eruptions. These are mild eruptions that are not explosive like you see in some other volcanoes. People aren't killed very often by them because they know they are coming and are able to escape. They do loose their houses or farms though if they are covered by lava. That is a concern so for that reason I wouldn't buy land there that isn't in lava zone 3 or higher. Fortunately much of the inexpensive land is in lava zone 3. What surprises me is that many people buy land in the more risky lava zones 1 and 2 and pay even higher prices than for land in lava zone 3. I guess, having a nice view and being close to the ocean are more important to some people than the risk of the volcano. My lot is in lava zone 3 and in that development (Hawaiian Acres) it's said that the the land was last covered by lava 200-700 years ago, depending on the location. Mine is probably closer to 700 years because it looks like it was untouched by an eruption for a long time. It is lush and has tall trees.

Earthquakes are a concern so housing needs to be well built with good lateral strength (adequate bracing and/or sheathing). That doesn't mean that the structures need to be massive. If they are light weight high up in the structure, that reduces the lateral forces and it's a good thing.

Hurricanes hit the Big Island but they are usually slowed down by the other islands first so they are not real intense. The island of Kauai gets hit hard and sometimes papaya crops were totally devastated.

Collecting rain water for household use is legal in Hawaii. But the system needs to be inspected which is reasonable because they want to make sure that the water is safe for consumption.
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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby edearl » Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:39 am

Namdrol wrote:Passive solar has limited effectiveness in New England. However, you are right, new homes can be designed to maximize their solar uptake. But it is exorbinant to retrofit a home. For example, I live in a 1829 farmhouse. I would like us to refit our house with a geothermal system because I think this is the most efficient way to heat in the winter. But we do not have the money at present.
N


Here is a link about a passive solar home in Ontario, Canada. http://www.glenhunter.ca/passive-solar/

They do not seem to have a way to seal their south facing windows, such as window blankets, which would help during the coldest weather. They report using auxiliary heating only in January. I think anywhere in the US, except parts of Alaska. is a good place for passive solar.
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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby KeithBC » Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:40 am

Virgo wrote:To make your own pellets well you will need a wood chipper, mulcher, and a machine that makes the pellets. You could probably get all the equipment you need for under 2k US.

Even if pellets burn more efficiently than bulk wood, something I am not convinced of, I cannot imagine that the increase in efficiency would compensate for the additional energy required to manufacture them. You can fall and buck up a tree with human muscle alone. Even if you assume that the purchase price is no big deal, the chipper, mulcher and pellet-maker all require gasoline or electricity to operate. Not the way you want to go if you are aiming for self-sufficiency. If you are going to rely on those sources of energy, then you might as well use them directly to heat your house and leave the trees standing. It's hardly different from city life.

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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby Virgo » Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:50 am

KeithBC wrote:
Virgo wrote:To make your own pellets well you will need a wood chipper, mulcher, and a machine that makes the pellets. You could probably get all the equipment you need for under 2k US.

Even if pellets burn more efficiently than bulk wood, something I am not convinced of, I cannot imagine that the increase in efficiency would compensate for the additional energy required to manufacture them. You can fall and buck up a tree with human muscle alone. Even if you assume that the purchase price is no big deal, the chipper, mulcher and pellet-maker all require gasoline or electricity to operate. Not the way you want to go if you are aiming for self-sufficiency. If you are going to rely on those sources of energy, then you might as well use them directly to heat your house and leave the trees standing. It's hardly different from city life.

Om mani padme hum
Keith

Well it might upset some tree-huggers that you cut down some trees to create fuel, but if you do it sustainably, then, like I said, you can preserve a wooded area indefinitely. Likewise, the gasoline/electric used for the machinery doesn't amount to a whole lot in price. For example, you can make an average of around 300 pounds of wood pellets per hour, doing it at home. And again, you can use grass clippings, leaves, and so forth, so there is less cutting. It really is a cheap way to go in the area that I live in.

Kevin
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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby edearl » Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:07 am

An Indian firm will burn algae to make cement. See: http://www.carbonyatra.com/news_detail.php?id=197

Seems like algae couild be pressed into pellets, for use in pellet stoves. My biggest concern is that some algae is poisonous, and I do not know whether flue gasses would contain any of that toxin. Algae grows incredibly fast. With optimal conditions it can double its mass daily.
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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby Sönam » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:55 am

kirtu wrote:
Sönam wrote:others solutions exist to minimize the consumption of wood ... green roofs for exemple

Image


Yeah, but Sonam - this looks like an adaptation of military engineering. If so, that's a byproduct of the original intent of this structure. Not that it's not a green roof ....

Hmmm, is this an example of Maginot Line forts adapted to a home(my first impression) or is this part of the green resort complex in Patagonia?

Kirt


The thing is that I did'nt found a better photo to illustrate ... I agree that this one is quite ugly. In some alternative house, you directely have the compost on the roof ...

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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby Sönam » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:11 am

I had few acres of wood, and it depends on the type of wood, but mine was growing in bunches (birch) ... so we only had to prune the bunch. Doing so gave place, light and air to the remaining one.

Image

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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby Malcolm » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:17 pm

kirtu wrote:You should have seen when Ani Kunga told me in the 1700's Colonists clear cut the woods around their towns (and that we probably have denser forests on average on the East Coast than we've had for 200 years).


Yes, they did, they were bent on recreating England. They did it on purpose to warm microclimates. Ben Franklin talks about this.

N
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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby Malcolm » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:19 pm

edearl wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Passive solar has limited effectiveness in New England. However, you are right, new homes can be designed to maximize their solar uptake. But it is exorbinant to retrofit a home. For example, I live in a 1829 farmhouse. I would like us to refit our house with a geothermal system because I think this is the most efficient way to heat in the winter. But we do not have the money at present.
N


Here is a link about a passive solar home in Ontario, Canada. http://www.glenhunter.ca/passive-solar/

They do not seem to have a way to seal their south facing windows, such as window blankets, which would help during the coldest weather. They report using auxiliary heating only in January. I think anywhere in the US, except parts of Alaska. is a good place for passive solar.



That's not going to be useful in the majority of presently existing homes.
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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby Huifeng » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:30 pm

kirtu wrote:
Huifeng wrote:For locations:
The northern part of the North Island in New Zealand (north of Auckland), and parts of the Coromandel peninsula just SE of Auckland, may be good sites.
Also, the northern tip of the South Island, around Nelson and Blenheim.


You're going to try to move me into one of those caves with the scary but harmless insect aren't you?

Kirt


Cave wetas and giant wetas ("found primarily on small islands off the coast of the main islands, and are examples of island gigantism")
Image
while native to NZ are not found in every cave. Anyway, like you say, they are harmless, so what's the problem?

I wasn't suggesting caves at all, actually. There are plenty of places in the bush, along the outskirts of farming or town areas, where you could go about this.
(While these areas have caves, the places in NZ with more caves are elsewhere.)

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Re: Rebuilding civilization in North America

Postby Huifeng » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:32 pm

kirtu wrote:
Tara wrote:Hi kirt,

I thought you might be interested in this website. http://www.simondale.net/house/ The location of this settlement is UK. The home in the main article looks amazing and enchanting. It says it cost around £3,000 to get it to the stage in the photographs.


Thanks Tara!

I ran across these Hobbit houses a while ago but lost the link. This is quite an interesting approach.

Kirt


Those links also recently appeared at www.grist.org

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